Helpful Information

MASSACHUSETTS PHYSICIANS: Informed Consent

In Massachusetts to recover for a claim of lack of informed consent, there must be a showing by the plaintiff that:

Reading this you may ask how can knowing this benefit me? Well... it is important to know that defending yourself from any legal action begins long before you step foot in a courtroom.

Getting a patient's informed consent involves a lot more than merely getting a patient's signature on a written consent form. It is the process of communication between a patient and physician that results in the patient's understanding of and decision to undergo or reject a particular medical treatment.

As such, an integral part of this communications process is the meeting between the treating physician and the patient. It is here that all relevant information material to the patient's understanding of the treatment is reviewed and discussed with the patient and any worthwhile disclosures are made.

During this meeting the physician should re-address the patient's diagnosis, discuss the nature and purpose of the proposed treatment, along with associated risks and benefits. The physician should also speak to the patient about available alternatives known to the physician (regardless of their cost or whether or not the treatment options are covered by health insurance); including the risks and benefits of the alternative treatment or procedure; and just as important, the risks and benefits associated with refusing a particular medical intervention. It is understood that the remotely possible risks of a proposed treatment may be almost without limit. Consequently, the patient's right to know must be harmonized with the recognition that an undue burden should not be placed on the physician.

Additionally, the patient should have a chance to ask the physician questions about the treatment or procedure to get a better understanding, so that he or she can make an informed decision to proceed or to refuse the treatment.

Once it is ensured that the patient fully understands the risk and benefits of the proposed medical treatment, along with the availability of any alternatives and their associated risks then and only then should the patient be given a well-drafted informed consent form to review and sign.

Timely documentation to the patients file throughout the process, along with a signed well drafted informed consent form can be a strong piece of evidence in any medical malpractice action. This shows that the physician engaged the patient in a suitable discussion about the suggested medical intervention.

 


This article is presented to provide you with helpful information about the complaint process. Because a complaint has the potential to place your career at risk, all complaints, no matter how frivolous they may appear to you, should be handled with the utmost care and seriousness. In order to proceed in defending yourself against any complaint, it is the wise professional who consults with an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in representing professionals like you and who can provide you with the best defense possible.

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